Port operator International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) may soon add a feature on the Terminal Appointment Booking System (TABS) website that would allow port stakeholders to check which slots are in use, a move intended to promote transparency amid fears of slot abuse and manipulation.
The additional feature will help dispel doubts of stakeholders on whether slots are really no longer available when users try and fail to book one, Samson Gabisan told PortCalls after his group’s meeting with ICTSI on April 14.
Gabisan is the coordinator of the group of customs brokers and truckers that earlier submitted a letter to ICTSI containing suggestions on how to improve TABS implementation.
The new feature will also take the pressure off customs brokers because then they can provide proof to their importer clients that no slots were available in the zone they had attempted to book, Gabisan explained.
Moreover, he said the port operator is looking at activating a buffer time of six hours upon users’ initial booking. This means stakeholders cannot book slots within the first six-hour zones upon logging in to the system.
Gabisan, together with some concerned customs brokers and truckers, wrote a letter on March 31 to TABS implementers ICTSI and Asian Terminals Inc. suggesting measures to address concerns identified during the initial days of the system’s strict implementation.
READ: PH customs brokers propose ways to improve TABS efficiency, transparency
One of the group’s recommendations is for the system to offer transparency, as this will “deter users from abusing TABS as well as it will clear all doubts of alleged booking slot manipulation to give advantage to a selected few.”
Aside from the additional website feature, Gabisan said ICTSI has taken note of the group’s suggestion to impose a flat rate of P100 for all slots instead of having free, medium-, and high-demand zones with corresponding costs of zero, P300, and P1,000.
According to the group, some queuing has occurred as trucks all go to the terminals at the same time in order to book the free demand zones and avoid paying the P1,000 charge.
During the meeting, they raised the issue of long dwell time of trucks inside the terminals as they wait for containers to be loaded. The group pointed out this should no longer be the case as port operators have been pre-advised of the truckers’ arrival through TABS.
Gabisan claimed there was an instance when trucks had to wait for six hours before being loaded, running counter to ICTSI pronouncements that dwell time was 2 to 2.5 hours,. Former Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras had earlier given an order to operators to observe a dwell time of only 59 minutes.
Gabisan said they will continue to monitor implementation of TABS and hold dialogue with port operators when efficiency issues arise. – Roumina Pablo
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